Garvey, Marcus Moziah

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Marcus Garvey was a charismatic leader who preached black pride and economic self-sufficiency. He is internationally recognized as the organizer of the first significant movement of black nationalism in the United States.

Marcus Moziah Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, to Marcus Moziah Garvey, a stonemason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic and farmer. He and his sister Indiana were the only two of the eleven Garvey offspring to reach adulthood. As a child, he used his father's extensive library to educate himself. When Garvey was 14, he went to work as a printer's apprentice. In 1908, he participated

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in the country's first Printers Union strike; when the strike failed, the union disbanded. Because he had been one of the strike leaders, Garvey found himself blacklisted. He began working at the GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE and briefly published his own small journal, Garvey's Watchman. Garvey then traveled through Central America and lived in London from 1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College. During this period he was exposed to the problems engendered by RACIAL DISCRIMINATION and first began to think about ways to help black persons become economically self-sufficient.

Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914 and established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He cofounded the UNIA with Amy Ashwood, who was the association's first secretary, and who would later become Garvey's first wife. At the time, most of Africa's countries were colonies under the domination of European nations. The purpose of the UNIA, whose motto was "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," was to promote black nationalism throughout the world by establishing an African country where blacks would run their own government.

In 1916, Garvey moved to the United States and toured the country, espousing the Back-to-Africa movement. In 1917, he started a chapter of UNIA in New York City, setting up headquarters in Harlem. To build economic self-reliance, the UNIA started several businesses including the Negro Factories Corporation (NFC) and a steamship company called the Black Star Line. Garvey also began publishing the Negro World, in 1918, a journal that advocated his ideas for African nationalism and served as the voice of the UNIA.

Around this same time, the UNIA achieved one of its most ambitious goals?it reached an agreement with the African nation of Liberia to make land available for...

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